Friday 9 November 2018

Discovering Croation Wine with Kozlović

Producer: Kozlović Winery

Thanks to the World Cup and the HBO series Game of Thrones, Croatia has been this year’s hottest destination. Combining stunning natural scenery with the charm of old-world Europe, it’s easy to see why people have been flocking to discover the secrets of this country. I recently spent a week there exploring the otherworldly beauty of the Plitvice Lakes National Park and the walled city of Dubrovnik where some of the scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed. While in Istria, I also took the opportunity to visit Kozlović Winery, which I had heard was one of the best producers in the region.

Thursday 25 October 2018

Papa Knows Best

Producer: Marques de Casa Concha

As the largest wine producer in Chile, Concha y Toro has a vast number of brands in its portfolio, each aimed at a different segment of the market. Marques de Casa Concha is part of their fine wine collection, below Don Melchor in terms of pricing but slightly above Casillero del Diablo. Chile is known for making dependable, affordable wines, and Marques de Casa Concha fits that mould perfectly. Most of their wines are sold for around SGD50 in Singapore, which if you compare against wines from Bordeaux and California are very competitively priced. But do they fare as well taste-wise?

Thursday 20 September 2018

Cockburn's Port

Producer: Cockburn's

In these days of Brexit and the weakening pound, it is difficult to imagine that at its peak the British Empire controlled nearly a quarter of the world’s population and land area. Whether imperialism has been good or bad for the world is open to debate, but I am grateful for at least one lasting legacy – port wine. Thanks to the alliance between Portugal and England, British merchants have had a substantial presence in the town of Porto since the 17th century. Many of them dedicated themselves to the wine trade, which offered better profit margins than other goods. The Treaty of Methuen, which reduced the tax on Portuguese wines entering England, further encouraged the growth of the wine industry in the Douro region. To ensure that the wines would not spoil during the long sea journey, they were often fortified with brandy, a precursor to the many styles of port in the market today.

Friday 10 August 2018

Creative Food and Wine Pairings at Creation Wines

Producer: Creation Wines

Viognier is a specialty of Creation Wines, who were the first to grow it in Hemel-en-Aarde. This unoaked, peachy wine serves as a great aperitif.

Which do you think would be easier? Planning a visit to a winery for wine experts or for casual wine lovers? From my experience it is planning for the casual wine lover that is more challenging. For example, wine professionals usually would not mind spending hours listening to the minutiae of vineyard treatments, fermentation techniques and oak maturation. For the casual wine lover however, visuals are important and there must be activities that allow him or her to feel involved with the wine. Knowing the target audience is a key principle of marketing, and it works when planning group outings as well.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Weather, Bordeaux and the UGC 2015 Tasting

Right: Olivier Bernard, UGC President

There are few places in the world where vintage matters as much as Bordeaux. Throughout the year winemakers watch the skies carefully for signs of hail or rain. As the grapes ripen they pray for dry, warm weather. Weather conditions translate directly to wine quality. When I tasted the 2013 vintage, many wines were light in colour and lacking in fruit concentration. 2009 was a hedonistic vintage, with ripe tannins and lush fruit. A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to taste the 2015 vintage at the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux tasting at the Conrad Centennial, and met with Olivier Bernard who is the president of the UGC. Olivier expounded on the unique location of Bordeaux, saying, “Bordeaux is situated on the 45th parallel, in the middle of the cold north and warm south. Why Bordeaux is so different than wine made on the 40th or wine made on the 50th parallel is because the difference in weather on the 45th is much bigger than anywhere else in the world.”

Monday 18 June 2018

A Taste of Branaire-Ducru

Producer: Château Branaire-Ducru

My first experience with wine was not from a glass, but from a book. Apart from being known for children’s novels such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, Dahl also delighted in writing short stories that often had an unexpected twist. One such story was Taste, in which a wine critic accepts a bet from a rich man over whether he can identify a bottle of wine that is served to him blind. The critic has his eye on the rich man’s daughter and wagers two of his houses for her hand in marriage. He goes through an elaborate show of tasting the wine and describing its qualities, stunning the rich man when he is able to identify the producer and vintage accurately. The twist is that the critic already knows what the wine is, having spotted it earlier in the rich man’s study. The tasting scene is brilliantly detailed, and it is clear that Dahl knows quite a bit about wine. When he passed away one of the items that was buried with him was a bottle of wine from Burgundy.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Ridgeview Leads the Way for English Sparkling Wine

Producer: Ridgeview Wine Estate

English Sparkling Wine has been on my radar for a few years now, ever since I discovered a shelf of these treasures at Waitrose in London. They are not available locally, which is a crime, as these are wines of extremely good quality. English Sparkling is positioned as a challenger to champagne, using the same production method (a secondary fermentation in bottle) and comprising the grape varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The chalky soil in southern England is similar to the soils of Champagne, and the climate is even cooler than the Champagne region due to the more northerly latitude.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

A Huge-ly Important Wine Producer

Producer: Famille Hugel

Mention Alsace and wine in the same conversation, and chances are high that the name Hugel will also pop up. It is one of the oldest producers in that region, based in the town of Riquewihr which is said to be the inspiration for the design of Belle’s village in Beauty and the Beast. As a standard bearer for Alsace, Hugel wines can be found all over the world. Marc-Andre Hugel, who is part of the company’s 13th generation, was recently in Singapore for a trade lunch and shared some updates from the family business.

Wednesday 28 February 2018

The Douro Boys Part 2 – A Lunch at Quinta do Vallado

Producer: Quinta do Vallado

“Have you tried this before?” asks João, our host at Quinta do Vallado. “It’s alheira, a very traditional type of Portuguese food created by Jewish communities that fled central Europe into the Douro Superior. The main diet in northern Portugal is chorizo, made with pork, but of course the Jewish community could not eat pork, so they made a smaller, thinner sausage out of bread and game meats – usually birds like partridge.” The texture is dense and the flavour mildly spicy. It goes down a treat with the refreshing white wine João has laid out for us, along with a huge basket of bread and olive oil made from trees growing on the property itself. The olive oil produced in the Douro, João explains, is naturally flavourful and low in acidity, making it suitable for bread but wasted when used as salad dressing. For lunch we have been seated at the outdoor patio, where a canopy of leaves creates dappled shadows over our table and provides welcome shade from the sun’s radiance.

Monday 8 January 2018

The Douro Boys Part 1 – The Harmony of Technology and Tradition

Producer: Quinta do Crasto

The Douro Valley is just a two hour drive away from the coastal city of Porto, but worlds apart in terms of scenery and climate. As my car emerges from under the Serra do Marão mountain range via a tunnel on the A4 motorway, I am momentarily dazzled by the bright sunlight. Waves of unrelenting heat bathe the area, a marked difference from the refreshing crispness of the Atlantic breeze in Porto. I begin to understand why some wines are referred to as having the “Douro bake” character. With the mountains blocking the cool ocean air, the Douro Valley resembles a hot oven during the day.